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National Restaurant Association - Social media options: Which is right for my restaurant

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Social media options: Which is right for my restaurant

Anna Tauzin is the National Restaurant Association’s manager of digital innovation and serves as a multimedia thought leader, leading digital, Web and social strategy development. Here she highlights effective ways to engage guests through social media and technology.

According to the NRA's 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 50 percent of both casual dining and fine dining operators and 40 percent of family dining operators say they plan to devote more resources to social media marketing in 2015.  When it comes to choosing the best social media outlet for your restaurant, the options can seem daunting: Do you communicate via Facebook and Twitter? Share photos on Instagram? Get creative with Vine? What channel will give you the best return on investment?

1. Goals. Kind of.

Social media goals are notoriously hard to measure, and though you may have some in mind, Twitter, Facebook, etc. (increase follower count by 200 percent, directly engage with 50 customers a month on social media), don’t let focusing on pure numbers stop you from connecting with your audience.

“I don’t think it’s about goals. The conversations are happening, whether you’re partaking in it or not, and you need to be part of that conversation,” said Stacey Kane, vice president of marketing at California Tortilla. “It’s not about ‘I’m going to be on Facebook and it’s going to increase by X percentage.’ It’s, ‘People are talking about me on Twitter and Yelp and here and there… I’d better be listening.’"

2. Where are they?

Next, figure out where your customers are and what sort of networks they are using.  A Pew Internet report from 2012 outlines what percentage and demographics of Internet users are using which network.

Since Facebook has the largest audience – 67 percent of all Internet users frequent the site – it makes sense to begin your social media outreach there.

While building a community there, go ahead and register with the other popular networks in order to claim your username or vanity URL. You can use NameChk to see if your name is still available on dozens of sites all at once. Register, and then upload your logo and basic information about your restaurant. Even if you’re not ready to get active, customers will appreciate your presence and your intent to create a community.

3. What kind of info do you want to share?

Reaching out on social media can be taxing and time-consuming, so consider what your own habits are now and see if they align with what each one is known for.

Do you already take photos with your smart phone? Try Instagram or Vine. Would you rather send out short pieces of information? Go with Twitter. Interested in polling your diners and interacting with more of them directly? Facebook is the place. Do you like curating images (and possibly wedding-themed inspiration boards)? Try out Pinterest.

Of course, the beauty of these networks is you can get almost all of them to synch with the others. For example, if you’re taking and posting photos on Instagram, set it up so it pushes updates to your Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts.

Overall, making some effort to be involved in the conversations happening online about your business is the first step to good social media outreach.

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